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10 Essential Ways to Hack Your Life (Instead of Letting Life Hack You)

10 Essential Ways to Hack Your Life (Instead of Letting Life Hack You)

    1. Stop waiting for things to change – change yourself NOW! 

    Most often that means changing your attitude! Too many times people have preconditions to happiness, only to find even if they reach that goal, there are even more pre-conditions to happiness. Aside for a temporary “high” when we attain our goal, we very quickly go back to a general baseline mood unless we change our thinking habits. If you tend to be a pessimist, you will continue to be no matter what happens on the outside, unless you change from the inside. Real attitude change is an inside job!  

    2. Build on your regrets, rather than let them keep you stuck in the past.  

    All too often, we use the past as a hitching post rather than a guide post. What’s done is done, and you can’t change it now. Use lessons from the past to improve your life NOW!  See even failure as feedback, not as a referendum of your self worth. Regrets can propel you forward, make you wiser and help you develop empathy for others. Regrets give us many useful lessons to build upon if you do not let them weigh you down. Forgive yourself for now knowing everything when you were six! We are all works in progress. Use your regrets as stepping stones towards a better future, rather than rocks in your emotional backpack.

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    3. Learn something every day.

     The end of school does not mean the end of learning. We are learning all the time, even if we are not aware of it. Life gives the best lessons of all, and it constantly teaches us lessons no one ever could. If you open up to the wonder of growing and learning, even if the lessons are something you never wanted to learn, you will keep moving in a forward direction.

    4. Stop lying to yourself! 

    People who are the most honest to others are often the biggest liars to themselves. They feed themselves all sorts of fiction that they are not good enough, not smart enough, not attractive enough, to the extent that they feel at times like “failures”. The critical inner voice is hard to quell, especially if you learned early on those messages that were judgmental and critical.  People who lie to themselves treat fact like fiction.  Change your self talk from statements like “I should be further along in my life than now” to “I am disappointed at where I am in my life, and I have learned many lessons to build on to make different decisions now.”  

    5. Forgive…for goodness sake!

    Forgiveness does not mean condoning behavior – it means you give up the bitterness you harbor that eats at you and robs you out of happiness in life.  People who wrong us are not inherently evil, but rather more likely unhealthy and maybe very very, very unhealthy. Switching from seeing from being “bad” to being “unhealthy” can free you of the resentment and bitterness. Whether it is your parents, coworkers, friends, or as a result of a love relationship gone sour, forgiveness will help you open up your heart to try again.  Of course, the most important person to forgive is yourself, and keep in mind you are a work in progress.

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    6. Think straight to feel great! 

    Irrational thinking lays the foundation for a lot of unhappiness and helplessness. Irrational thinking can be so automatic, that it is hard to catch, as our thoughts become solidified into “truths.” Our perceptions shape our reality, and that is what determines our attitude. As you become more aware of irrational patterns of thinking and change them into more rational thoughts, you will be empowered to change your attitude to change your life. “I can’t stand this” is irrational – nothing makes you melt into the ground! A more rational perspective is, “I am having a hard time with this”. The less you immobilize yourself with judgmental thoughts, the more you will feel empowered and optimistic.

    7. Try to change what is in your control, not what is out of your control.  

    Who is the only person we can change? Ourselves!  Who do we often try to change? Others!  Even trying to change someone else’s mind, however well meaning, can lead to frustration as people do not change just because you want them too – they need to want to! If you find yourself trying to change others, you will tend to be aggressive rather than assertive.  Bossiness and insensitivity will limit your ability to be accepting of others, flaws and all.  Of course, accepting people does not give them a “carte blanche” to say or do anything they want – it is up to us to set limits on how much we let them into our inner world. People who tend to be negative and focus on changing others rather than themselves are more likely to be dissatisfied with their lives.

    8. Make peace with the fact that life is not fair.

    We all know that life is not fair, but all too often we still expect it to be!  Expecting that life and people in it should be fair is the source of countless pain. Life gets quite tedious with that type of entitled mentality. Life is really more like Swiss Cheese with all its holes. It is not smooth and predictable like cream cheese or American.  It is actually the holes in our lives that offer us challenges that make us stronger and develop depth of character.  If we embrace the holes in our lives and grow through them, we become healthier in mind and spirit. Try as hard as you can to make life fair, and accept the rest and work around it.

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    9. Let yourself smile from within.

       People who are grateful for what they have instead of comparing themselves to others, feeling bitter about what they do not have, tend to feel less hacked by life. Pre-conditions to gratefulness is like pre-conditions to happiness – gratefulness will never happen unless we learn to be grateful for things in our life now.  Life can be tough and it is easier to find faults with it, but it will be an easier journey if we stop to smell the roses, slow down, and enjoy beauty in your world today.   Immerse yourself in nature, breath in the fresh air, slow down and savor each bite of food, and stop to lovingly gaze on those close to you.  Don’t take them for granted.  Are you too busy for that?  Let yourself be a human being instead of a human doing. 

    10. Don’t wait to change your life – do it today!  Start right now!

    You want your life to change?  Don’t wait!  Tomorrow is forever put off, and today is the day to start.  You can empower yourself by using “victor” language instead of “victim” language.  Replace “I should” with “I will”  and “I hate to” with “I don’t like”. The more flexible your self talk, the more you feel empowered and will be proactive.  Proactivity is one of the 7 habits of highly effective people according to Stephen Covey. Those who are proactive are more likely to be masters of their destiny, as opposed to those who are reactive, who allow others to control their moods. Make an action list of things you want to accomplish, and start today!  You do not have to do things all at once, and breaking large goals such as losing weight, can be broken down into little sub-goals.  The important thing is to begin today!

    Each day that you choose to remind yourself of these ten skills to hack life rather than let life hack you, you will increase your sense of self-mastery and enjoy life more.

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    I welcome ideas of how you hack life!

    (Photo credit: A Better Life Sign via Shutterstock)

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    Judy Belmont

    Mental health author, motivational speaker and psychotherapist

    11 WARNING Signs Of Unhealthy Relationships You Need to Be Aware Of The 10 Essential Habits of Positive People Robin Williams’ Death Is A Wake-Up Call: 12 Natural Ways To Fight Depression Quick Test: What Is Your Forgiveness IQ? 7 Essential Ways That Inspirational Quotes Can Literally Change Your Day … and Your Life!

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    Last Updated on August 20, 2019

    How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

    How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

    Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life.

    Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affect your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality. (And here’s Why Your Perception Is Your Reality.)

    I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive and just a general waste of energy.

    You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

    Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Become the master of your mind.

    When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

    I currently have few thoughts that are not of my own choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

    Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

    Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in charge of your thoughts. If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

    Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create the most unhealthy and unproductive thoughts:

    1. The Inner Critic

    This is your constant abuser who is often a conglomeration of:

    • Other people’s words; many times your parents.
    • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples expectations.
    • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media.
    • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

    The Inner Critic is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance and lack of self-love.

    Why else would this person abuse you? And since this person is actually you– why else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

    2. The Worrier

    This person lives in the future; in the world of “what ifs.”

    The Worrier is motivated by fear which is often irrational and with no basis for it. Occasionally, this person is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

    3. The Reactor or Trouble-Maker

    This is the one that triggers anger, frustration and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

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    This person can be set off by words or feelings, and can even be set off by sounds and smells.

    The Reactor has no real motivation and has poor impulse control and is run by past programming that no longer serves you, if it ever did.

    4. The Sleep Depriver

    This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

    The Sleep Depriver’s motivation can be:

    • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
    • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
    • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity and generalized anxiety
    • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

    How can you control these squatters?

    How to Master Your Mind

    You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You must pay attention to your thoughts so you can identify “who” is running the show; this will determine which technique you will want to use.

    Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

    There are two ways to control your thoughts:

    • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
    • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

    This second option is what is known as peace of mind!

    The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go to” thoughts in the applicable situations.

    Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier; and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

    For the Inner Critic

    When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

    You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

    For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

    You can also have a dialogue with yourself with the intention of discrediting the ‘voice’ that created the thought, if you know whose voice it is:

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    “Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

    If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready. This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

    • They rile up the Worrier.
    • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
    • They are often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
    • They are a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
    • They are the destroyer of self-esteem. They convince you that you’re not worthy. They’re a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get them out!

    Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

    Replace them with your new best friends who support, encourage, and enhance your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

    For the Worrier

    Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

    Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind and creates anxiety in the body.

    You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

    • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
    • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
    • Muscles tense

    Use the above stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

    If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

    Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

    “Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

    Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense; both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

    If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

    Now take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like!

    Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

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    For example:

    If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

    “I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place. Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

    Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

    “Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

    Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

    For the Trouble-Maker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

    Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers; but until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

    The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain:

    • Increased heart rate and blood pressure; surge of adrenaline
    • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
    • Muscles tension

    I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

    Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds; just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

    Breathe in through your nose:

    • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
    • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
    • Focus on your belly rising.

    Breathe out through your nose:

    • Feel your lungs emptying.
    • Focus on your belly falling.
    • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

    Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize.

    Now you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior.

    One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting, or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

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    Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

    For the Sleep Depriver

    (They’re made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

    I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

    Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

    1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
    2. Then I came up with replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

    When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and I choose quiet.

    From the first time I tried this method I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

    For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (Closed, of course!). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

    If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

    You can also use this technique any time you want to:

    • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon.
    • Shut down your thinking.
    • Calm your feelings.
    • Simply focus on the present moment. 

    The Bottom Line

    Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or for destructive purposes.

    You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

    Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. The choice is yours!

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    Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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